LEE CLARK’S focus is firmly on earning three points at Bristol Rovers tomorrow, but he admits it’s getting to the stage of the season where the final whistle is immediately followed by a check of the other results in League I.
Town head to the West Country for the second Saturday running – they worked out at Bristol City’s training ground en route to Yeovil seven days ago – aiming to match the fourth best unbeaten league run in the club’s history of 15 games.
The boss knows his team will have another sizeable backing as they aim to spoil Rovers caretaker manager Stuart Campbell’s first home match since replacing Dave Penney, and despite the absence of key players, is confident the men available can do the business.
“I’ve been fortunate because the five clubs I’ve worked for as a player, coach or manager (Newcastle, Sunderland, Fulham, Norwich and now Town) have had fantastic and loyal support bases,” said Clark.
“The supporters at all those clubs travel up and down the country and are desperate for their team to do well, and I want to provide our supporters with the success they have been craving for a long time.”
Town are chasing a third win in four games after beating Hartlepool 1-0 in the North-East, drawing 1-1 at Yeovil and defeating Rochdale 2-1 at the Galpharm on Tuesday, and Clark continued: “I’m delighted at the unbeaten run, but we know winning games is crucial.”
Town’s task has been made tougher by the season-ending leg break and ankle dislocation suffered by Anthony Pilkington, while Antony Kay (ankle), Gary Naysmith (calf) and Lee Peltier (suspended) are also out of tomorrow’s game.
But Clark, right, insisted: “I firmly believe we have the players to do the job. We’ve got the right blend. We can pass the ball, move it around and create opportunities but when it becomes a battle, we can dig in, be resolute and put heads and feet in.
“But we also know how tough this division is, and while Brighton have given themselves a nice cushion at the top, I’d say we’re one of at least six sides looking to fill the other automatic promotion place.”
While Gus Poyet’s Seagulls host Tranmere, beaten 1-0 by Bristol Rovers on Tuesday, Bournemouth, just a point ahead of third-placed Town after their 2-0 loss at Exeter, play host to fifth-placed Southampton in a crunch New Forest derby.
Peterborough, a point behind Town with a game in hand, are at home to Carlisle, sixth-placed MK Dons head to Colchester and Leyton Orient, in seventh and with games in hand on all those above, meet Oldham in East London.
“You look after yourselves first and foremost, but when you get back to the dressing room, hope you’ve had a few favours,” said Clark, whose team go to Brentford on Tuesday, when it’s also Hartlepool v Orient and Sheffield Wednesday v Peterborough.